Does George Takei, whose Facebook page has won him a devoted following, employ ghostwriters to think up new status updates?
Yes and no, according to Takei himself. Takei, best known for his role as USS Enterprise helmsman Hikaru Sulu in the original “Star Trek” series, is well known for his Facebook account, updated frequently with jokes about grammar mistakes, posts about his support of gay rights and gay marriage, and funny photos.
“Parents, is this you?” Takei asked in a recent status update, posting a photo of a parent sleeping with their infant lying on top of their head.
His page currently has more than 4 million likes.
Recently, writer Rick Polito stated in an interview with Jim Romenesko, a media analyst, that Takei pays him $10 per joke to write for his page.
However, Takei himself said he didn’t see what the fuss was about.
“What is this hoo-ha about my FB posts?” Takei said in an interview with Wired. “I have Brad, my husband, to help me and interns to assist. What is important is the reliability of my posts being there to greet my fans with a smile or a giggle every morning. That’s how we keep on growing.”
He pointed out that his e-book "Oh Myy," which came out in November, stated that people he called “George Fakei” sometimes updated his page for him. Takei said that people like Polito will supply him with the humorous photos, which the actor said he always states are from “a fan,” but that he himself writes the comments about them.
“The commentaries are mine,” Takei told Wired.
When he's away from home, the actor said others will re-post old status updates to his page.
Meanwhile, Polito said in a new interview with Romensko that he apologized to Takei.
“I don’t update his page,” Polito said. “I’ve had no direct contact with George. I’ve sent him some memes, as have other comedian types, and I was happy for the exposure.”
The film picks back up with the plucky hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), the scruffy, yet noble and courageous, wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), the hard-edged Dwarf warrior Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and their merry band of dwarven companions, following their escape from the Goblin King’s underground kingdom and near-death at the (remaining) hand of Azog the Defiler, a.k.a. The White Orc. However, the greatest danger of them all still lies ahead – in the form of the dragon Smaug – awaiting in the treasure room at Erebor, the Lonely Mountain.
Bilbo and his fellow travelers encounter the Elves of Mirkwood – which includes King Thandruil (Lee Pace), Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and the lady warrior Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) – before making their way to the sparse and barren lands that surround the Lonely Mountain (a place known as ‘The Desolation of Smaug’). Meanwhile, Gandalf splits off from the company, in an effort to learn more about the mysterious Necromancer – who resides at Dol Guldur – and his connection to the forces of darkness (e.g. Sauron), long believed to have vanished from Middle-earth.
RECOMMENDED: How well do you know 'The Hobbit’? Take the quiz
Bilbo’s up close and personal meeting with the eponymous scaly beast is expected to be one of the highlights of The Desolation of Smaug, similar to the exchange between Bilbo and Gollum (Andy Serkis) in the first Hobbit movie installment, An Unexpected Journey (a.k.a. the ‘Riddles in the Dark’ sequence). Smaug is voiced by Freeman’s Sherlock costar, Benedict Cumberbatch, but it’s unlikely that New Line Cinema will unveil the dragon in full during the marketing campaign for Jackson’s second Hobbit film (That would call back to how the studio kept Gollum mostly behind the curtain, prior to the theatrical release of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.)
The newly-released Desolation of Smaug trailer does just that, by literally keeping the beast in the shadows (and voice-less). Similarly, we get a nice peak at some of the majestic landscapes and the new Middle-earth locales visited by Bilbo and his companions; storywise, the emphasis is on the new character additions – especially the aforementioned Mirkwood Elves – and that includes a brief glimpse at the human Bard the Bowman (Fast & Furious 6 star Luke Evans), who will play a pivotal role in events to come.
Overall, it looks as though The Desolation of Smaug will up the ante and better please those who were frustrated by how much of the first Hobbit installment was devoted to setting up future developments in the over-arching story.
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.
RECOMMENDED: How well do you know 'The Hobbit’? Take the quiz
This Is the End is the feature directing debut for co-writers Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, based on their and Jason Stone’s 2007 short film “Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse.” The original horror-comedy short’s cast only includes Rogen and Jay Baruchel, but the full-length version adds several more celebrities – who, like the main actors, either play (semi-)heightened versions of themselves or riff on their well-known onscreen personalities.
Goldberg and Rogen’s feature debut starts with Rogen and Baruchel attending a party at James Franco’s house in Los Angeles, when a sudden – and unspecified – apocalyptic event strikes the city. Rogen, Baruchel and Franco hunker down in the latter’s home (along with Jonah Hill and Craig Robinson), in the hope of waiting things out until they are rescued. However, after a series of encounters with other celebrity survivors and the bizarre monsters residing outside, these five friends begin to wonder: could this really be the end-of-days?
Every script that Goldberg and Rogen have written to date feels like an attempt to top themselves (save perhaps for The Watch), and that trend continues with This Is the End. The final movie result this round is an outrageously crude and low-brow raunch-com that lampoons an eclectic mixture – and wide range – of pop-culture targets, often to very funny effect; unfortunately, the film’s skit-oriented structure gives rise to a series of comedic vignettes that are usually hit-or-miss. Meanwhile, the self-referential aspects can sometimes come off as too self-congratulatory in execution, and make this the least accessible of the screenwriters’ efforts to date.
Despite that, This Is the End is a solid debut for Goldberg and Rogen as directors, and an overall effective compilation of everything that people loved (or, if you’re a non-fan, hated) about their previous screenplays. The pair appear to have picked up a few useful tricks from their previous filmmaking collaborators; as a result, This Is the End has the (b)romantic heart of director Greg Mottola (Superbad) with the fanboy enthusiasm of David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) and the surreal pop art sensibilities of Michel Gondry (The Green Hornet).
Goldberg and Rogen aim to seamlessly blend these influences together, but fall just short of doing so (and establishing their own unique identity as directors in the process). Nevertheless, their love for the film medium shows through and helps to make This Is the End an idiosyncratic pastiche of genre elements that never fully runs out of gas – despite hitting occasional speed bumps (due to the uneven script) along the way – and best recalls their approach to Pineapple Express … on steroids.
Cast-wise, Rogen, Baruchel, and Franco play standard variations on their usual comedy roles (e.g. “themselves”), but aren’t really any more or less entertaining here than in their previous film and television roles. (So don’t expect this movie to change your mind about them being – or not being – enjoyable comedic actors.) Fortunately, Robinson gets to put his physical and verbal comedy skills to good use, and Hill is fun to watch because he plays against type – by portraying himself as an angelic and New Age religious-type celebrity (who, deep down, is really just another self-serving Hollywood actor).
Meanwhile, Emma Watson pops in and out, but the bits involving her fall a bit flat and mostly feel like setup for the inevitable Hermione/Harry Potter joke. Danny McBride, on the other hand, plays himself as a more obnoxious version of his Kenny Powers character from Eastbound & Down; the caricature he creates is not all that satirical, self-aware or otherwise witty, but McBride still manages to earn a few laughs. Finally, the majority of the celebrity appearances take place in the first act, but are split between amusing glorified cameos – like Michael Cera playing a drug-happy version of himself – and throwaway gags, which involve them dying in gruesome ways.
Much of the humorous subtext for This Is the End stems from the audience’s familiarity with the cult of celebrity worship and Hollywood’s self-infatuation, which is a subject the film doesn’t so much as skewer as it just playfully nudges in the ribs (figuratively speaking). Similarly, there’s a lot of pop-culture lampooning that will resonate with children of the 1980s/90s and longtime fans of the main cast – those who watched people like Rogen and Franco grow up on the TV shows Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared - in addition to in-jokes for cinephiles, who will best understand the parody scenes and references to famous horror titles.
Such elements make the film feel too self-involved and esoteric at times, but overall, the good outweighs the bad. Basically, if you feel that Goldberg and Rogen deserved high grades for their earliest work (on Superbad and Pineapple Express) – and you didn’t jump off the bandwagon after Green Hornet and The Watch – then you’ve done the proper amount of homework to appreciate This Is the End.
In conclusion: Die-hard fans of Rogen, Franco and their merry band of foul-mouthed misfits will probably be more forgiving of the film’s weaknesses and just relish in the sheer comedic insanity and madness of what transpires onscreen (especially during the take-no-prisoners third act). Everyone else, well… you were probably never planning to check this one out, anyway (if you’re even reading this).
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.
“The Internship" stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson and chronicles the adventures of two middle-aged salesmen who score internships at Google. It recently raked in a little more than $18 million during its opening weekend. Monitor critic Peter Rainer gave it a C-, noting that "there’s a potentially good comedy to be made about old-school guys trying to make a go of it in a youth-dominated digital marketplace" but that the movie squanders its promising premise.
But how would two real-life interns feel about the film? Two Monitor interns, Colby Bermel and Casey Lee, decided to check out the movie this past weekend. Here they discuss the film, life lessons as imparted by Vaughn and Wilson, and PB&J sandwiches.
Colby Bermel: I was very excited to see this movie. When I saw the trailer a few months ago, I cried tears of joy for two reasons. One, the return of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. And two, the whole premise of the movie, which really tickled my fancy.
Casey Lee: I don’t know, Colby. I wasn’t that excited when I heard about it. I don’t think Vince Vaughn is that funny. I also pretty much hated “Wedding Crashers.” I was excited to see Stiles from “Teen Wolf” have a movie moment! But it was good timing, seeing as I am an intern at the moment. Since a group of friends were going, I figured it was a good time to be social.
Colby: Yes, being social is always a good thing. Wait, who’s Stiles? And what is “Teen Wolf”? Apparently I'm unaware of what's on TV these days.
Casey: “Teen Wolf” was a movie in the olden days, like, when our parents were young-ish. But now it’s a show on MTV and I secretly LOVE it. Stiles is the best friend to the main character; he is brilliant and super funny.
Colby: Speaking of funny, “The Internship” was funny – somewhat. It had its moments, most of which were shown in the trailer. Gosh, why did I have to watch that trailer? They always use the best jokes for them.
Casey: Curse our curiosity! I agree, it did have funny moments. I’m not upset that I spent all that cash to see it, but it’s not one that I’m going to see again or buy.
Colby: But you must admit that the whole premise of the movie was excellent. Vince Vaughn penned it himself. Two buddies in an unfamiliar environment, especially that of Google, is destined for hilarity and life lessons. But it turns out there wasn’t much hilarity. And there were WAY too many life lessons; they were incredibly corny, to say the least.
Casey: It is pretty impressive that Vince Vaughn came up with the idea. I felt that there was a fairly equal balance of corny and funny, so that worked out okay. Not to mention the bad guy got what was coming to him. That part definitely made me smile. He was extremely irksome. What did you learn from the film, Colby?
Colby: I learned everything there is to know about the life of a dancing girl from a Pennsylvania steel town. Still can’t remember what that movie’s called. Vince Vaughn really likes it, apparently, with all of his references to it. What’s it called, Casey?
Casey: We’ll have to Google it.
Colby: Casey! No! Don’t surrender to the movie’s product placement!
Casey: Too late. I Googled. Just what I thought, the multiple references he made was to the 1983 movie “Flashdance.”
Colby: Oh, thanks. Wait, wait, wait. Aren’t we supposed to be talking about “The Internship” in the context of our own internships here at the Monitor?
Casey: They're nothing alike. Google has free food. I have to go home and get a PB&J. The movie was very inspiring, though. According to Vaughn and Wilson, if you are nice to your co-workers and funny, you'll get a job no matter what, which I found comforting as a current college student.
Colby: Agreed. Case closed.
Colby Bermel and Casey Lee are Monitor contributors.
Here is the complete list of Critics' Choice TV Awards nominees and winners.
Winners are in bold.
BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Don Cheadle (House of Lies) – Showtime
Louis C.K. (Louie) – FX
Jake Johnson (New Girl) – FOX
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) – CBS
Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) – NBC
Jeremy Sisto (Suburgatory) – ABC
BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Laura Dern (Enlightened) – HBO
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) – FOX
Lena Dunham (Girls) – HBO
Sutton Foster (Bunheads) – ABC Family
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) – HBO
Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) – NBC
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Max Greenfield (New Girl) – FOX
Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory) - CBS
Alex Karpovsky (Girls) – HBO
Adam Pally (Happy Endings) – ABC
Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) – NBC
Danny Pudi (Community) – NBC
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY (tie)
Carly Chaikin (Suburgatory) – ABC
Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory) – CBS
Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) – ABC
Melissa Rauch (The Big Bang Theory) – CBS
Eden Sher (The Middle) – ABC
Casey Wilson (Happy Endings) – ABC
BEST GUEST PERFORMER IN A COMEDY SERIES
Melissa Leo (Louie) – FX
David Lynch (Louie) – FX
Bob Newhart (The Big Bang Theory) – CBS
Patton Oswalt (Parks and Recreation) – NBC
Molly Shannon (Enlightened) – HBO
Patrick Wilson (Girls) – HBO
BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) – AMC
Damian Lewis (Homeland) – Showtime
Andrew Lincoln (The Walking Dead) - AMC
Timothy Olyphant (Justified) – FX
Matthew Rhys (The Americans) – FX
Kevin Spacey (House of Cards) – Netflix
BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Claire Danes (Homeland) – Showtime
Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel) – A&E
Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) – CBS
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) – BBC America
Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) – AMC
Keri Russell (The Americans) – FX
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad) – AMC
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) – HBO
Michael Cudlitz (Southland) – TNT
Noah Emmerich (The Americans) – FX
Walton Goggins (Justified) – FX
Corey Stoll (House of Cards) – Netflix
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Jennifer Carpenter (Dexter) – Showtime
Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) – HBO
Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad) – AMC
Regina King (Southland) – TNT
Monica Potter (Parenthood) – NBC
Abigail Spencer (Rectify) – Sundance
BEST GUEST PERFORMER IN A DRAMA SERIES
Jim Beaver (Justified) – FX
Jane Fonda (The Newsroom) – HBO
Martha Plimpton (The Good Wife) – CBS
Carrie Preston (The Good Wife) – CBS
Diana Rigg (Game of Thrones) – HBO
Jimmy Smits (Sons of Anarchy) – FX
BEST MOVIE OR MINISERIES
American Horror Story: Asylum – FX
Behind the Candelabra – HBO
The Crimson Petal and the White – Encore
The Hour – BBC America
Political Animals – USA
Top of the Lake – Sundance
BEST ACTOR IN A MOVIE OR MINISERIES
Benedict Cumberbatch (Parade's End) – HBO
Matt Damon (Behind the Candelabra) – HBO
Michael Douglas (Behind the Candelabra) – HBO
Toby Jones (The Girl) – HBO
Al Pacino (Phil Spector) – HBO
Dominic West (The Hour) – BBC America
BEST ACTRESS IN A MOVIE OR MINISERIES
Angela Bassett (Betty & Coretta) – Lifetim
Romola Garai (The Hour) – BBC America
Rebecca Hall (Parade's End) – HBO
Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Asylum) – FX
Elisabeth Moss (Top of the Lake) – Sundance
Sigourney Weaver (Political Animals) – USA
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MOVIE OR MINISERIES
James Cromwell (American Horror Story: Asylum) – FX
Peter Mullan (Top of the Lake) – Sundance
Zachary Quinto (American Horror Story: Asylum) – FX
Sebastian Stan (Political Animals) – USA
David Wenham (Top of the Lake) – Sundance
Thomas M. Wright (Top of the Lake) – Sundance
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MOVIE OR MINISERIES
Ellen Burstyn (Political Animals) – USA
Sienna Miller (The Girl) – HBO
Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story: Asylum) – FX
Lily Rabe (American Horror Story: Asylum) – FX
Imelda Staunton (The Girl) – HBO
Alfre Woodard (Steel Magnolias) – Lifetime
BEST REALITY SERIES (tie)
Duck Dynasty – A&E
The Moment – USA
Pawn Stars – History Channel
Push Girls – Sundance
Small Town Security – AMC
Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan – BBC America
BEST REALITY HOST
Tom Bergeron (Dancing With the Stars) – ABC
Cat Deeley (So You Think You Can Dance) – FOX
Gordon Ramsay (Hell’s Kitchen/Masterchef) – FOX
RuPaul (RuPaul’s Drag Race) – Logo
Ryan Seacrest (American Idol) – FOX
Kurt Warner (The Moment) – USA
BEST TALK SHOW
Conan – TBS
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart – Comedy Central
The Ellen DeGeneres Show – Warner Brothers Television Distribution
Jimmy Kimmel Live! – ABC
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon – NBC
Marie – Hallmark Channel
BEST ANIMATED SERIES
Adventure Time – Cartoon Network
Archer – FX
Phineas and Ferb – Disney Channel
Regular Show – Cartoon Network
The Simpsons – FOX
Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Cartoon Network
CRITICS’ CHOICE TELEVISION ICON AWARD
Recipient: Bob Newhart
The surprise comes when you run an eye down the cast list of the movie “This Is the End” and see the roles they're playing. Seth Rogen: playing Seth Rogen. Jonah Hill: Playing Jonah Hill. James Franco… well, you get the idea.
“This Is the End” follows a group of friends – the movie stars that you already know well from Judd Apatow-directed movies such as “Superbad” and “Knocked Up,” as well as other films – as they suddenly find themselves in the midst of apocalyptic events. But, as noted above, all the movie stars are playing themselves, albeit fictionalized versions of themselves. Sort of.
Seth Rogen told the website Screen Rant that while the actors play themselves in exaggerated ways or do things they wouldn’t do in real life, much of the dialogue was improvised by the actors, who have become very good at needling each other offscreen.
“It’s so silly to have all these guys in a movie together and not let them riff off each other,” Rogen said of letting the actors improvise. “You know, that was always our plan.”
During the film, the actors get slammed by their peers for a movie that failed at the box office or a certain part of their public persona.
Is it an unusual film idea? Definitely. So far, reviews have been mixed. Variety writer Justin Chang said the movie is mostly entertaining.
“This directing debut for co-writers Rogen and Evan Goldberg offsets its slightly smug premise with a clever sense of self-parody and near-cataclysmic levels of vulgarity,” Chang wrote.
Entertainment Weekly writer Owen Gleiberman loved the film, giving it an A grade.
“You could sit through a year's worth of Hollywood comedies and still not see anything that's genuinely knock-your-socks-off audacious,” Gleiberman said of the film. “But 'This Is the End' truly is. It's the wildest screen comedy in a long time, and also the smartest, the most fearlessly inspired, and the snort-out-loud funniest.”
Others were less impressed – Todd McCarthy of the Hollywood Reporter called the film “unlikable but weirdly compelling” but noted that the unique premise may be enough to fill theater seats.
“With everyone here officially playing themselves, the result is like a giant home movie and a reality horror show, different enough from anything that's come before to score with young audiences,” he wrote.
The revival of the 1970s musical “Pippin” is a frontrunner for some of the top prizes at the Tony Awards tonight, including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical, and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical.
And I was (incredibly) lucky enough to have seen the revival, complete with its current cast, when the show was performed at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Mass., where it made its world debut before moving to Broadway.
I’ve been also lucky enough to see a lot of shows in my life, but that one would be in at least my top three, if not occupying the number one slot.
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Since I wasn’t around in the 1970s, I don’t have the built-in nostalgia factor that comes with this show, which premiered in 1972. But I can still see that it’s a hard show to get right. It’s a show that, ostensibly, is put on by traveling performers who have been looking for someone who is daring enough to participate in their grand finale. What is that finale? That's kept hush-hush until the end. But they think they’ve found the perfect person in Pippin, the son of Charlemagne (yes, that Charlemagne). Pippin, meanwhile, is trying to find meaning in his life – he doesn’t know what he wants to do, but he knows he wants it to be something grand and exciting.
It’s a show that has a lot of shifting moods – it takes a positive view of the world (see: what Pippin finally decides to do with his life) but also offers ruthless commentary on some subjects (see: the song “War Is A Science,” which is as decisively an indictment of war as you’re likely to ever hear). And that plot line with the traveling players, which comes to a head at the end of the show, adds another layer that you really need to be invested in for the finale to move you.
It’s hard to do. Before the A.R.T. version, I’d seen the show twice, once in a videotaped version of a live show (it did include actor Ben Vereen, who won a Tony for his “Pippin” role, as the Lead Player), and I’d seen a school production. Parts of them were more well-done than others.
A.R.T.’s “Pippin,” however, was perfect.
I was lucky enough to spend a summer reviewing plays for a local newspaper, and there’s usually something – maybe too-bright lighting or dancing that needs to be practiced – that needs to be improved in every production. I just… literally can’t find anything to critique about the show I saw of “Pippin.”
The current Broadway production has a circus theme, meaning that the action takes place in a big top tent and the ensemble, who in addition to playing the traveling players take on roles such as Charlemagne’s soldiers, are all extremely skilled gymnasts and circus performers. (The show was created with the participation of Gypsy Snider of the Montreal-based circus Les 7 Doigts de la Main.) The first few minutes of the show, in which the cast sings “Magic to Do” and the ensemble perform various feats, are enough to make your jaw drop.
Just about every member of the cast is a famous name and none disappoint. Terence Mann, long beloved to me as the actor who starred as Javert in “Les Miserables” and the Beast in the musical adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast,” uses his strong, commanding voice to good effect in “War Is A Science,” with the perfect edge to his voice when he delivers some of sardonic Charlemagne’s one-liners. His real-life wife Charlotte d’Amboise is poisonously perky as his wife Fastrada, and her dance number during her song “Spread a Little Sunshine” was a highlight. You have the actress who starred as Cassie in “A Chorus Line,” why not let her dance a little?
The actor who played Pippin, Matthew James Thomas, is less known than his co-stars, but his rendition of the lovely “Corner of the Sky” – performed in front of “Pippin” composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz the night I saw it, an experience that has to be fairly nerve-wracking – was faultless and he effectively portrayed Pippin's wistfulness and impatience at his current life. And as the Leading Player, “Sister Act” Tony nominee Patina Miller, in a role most famously portrayed by Vereen, was mesmerizing – the Leading Player is a showman/woman, with lots of smiles and glee, but Miller’s Leading Player proved to have a dangerous edge when thwarted.
By now, you’ve probably heard about Andrea Miller, who portrays Pippin’s grandmother Berthe. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but while delivering what, for my money, is the show’s catchiest song, “No Time at All,” Miller, who is 66, performs stunts that would make a 20-year-old think twice.
The current Broadway iteration of “Pippin” dusts off any mothballs and makes it a vibrant production. Check it out – they’re doing some magic.
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Falco follows nurse Jackie Peyton, who works in a hospital in New York and struggles with personal problems. Other stars on the show include “Twilight” actor Peter Facinelli and Merritt Wever.
“’Nurse Jackie' is an essential part of the Showtime brand, and we are thrilled with the series' growth in its fifth season," president of entertainment for Showtime David Nevins said in a statement. "Under the new leadership of Clyde Phillips, and with an amazing cast led by Edie Falco, this show is as sharp and compelling and entertaining as ever. I'm excited to get to see the next chapter in Jackie's life.”
As noted by Nevins, the show came under new command after its fourth season when Clyde Phillips became the showrunner, taking over for show creators Liz Brixius and Linda Wallem. In an interview with Deadline, Wallem said traveling between Los Angeles and New York, the show’s setting, had been challenging.
“This has been the best job of my life, but the travel, having to spend six months [in L.A.] and six months [in N.Y.] and be away from home, took a toll on me,” she said.
Before the show began, Brixius said she wanted to show how important nurses are in a hospital.
“Every medical show out there has been about doctors,” Brixius told the New York Daily News. “Doctors are absolutely unable to do what they have to do without nurses. We want to tell those stories.”
Falco has been nominated twice for an Emmy and won in 2010 for her role on the show, adding to the three Emmy statuettes she earned playing Mob wife Carmela Soprano on the HBO drama “The Sopranos.” She has also been nominated twice for a Golden Globe for her work on “Nurse Jackie.”
In The Purge we witness an imminent future (the year 2020) in which America has created a new system for controlling crime, violence and poverty. Known as the annual “Purge,” the ‘new founding fathers’ declare that for one day every year, all crime is legal while emergency and law enforcement services are shut down for a span of twelve hours.
James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) is a top salesman at a security systems firm, who lives with his wife Mary (Lena Headey), daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and gifted son Charlie (Max Burkholder) in a wealthy gated community, whose pristine streets are spared from the annual night of savagery. Things go horribly wrong when sympathetic Charlie allows a wounded man (Edwin Hodge) to take refuge in the Sandin’s home, thereby attracting a posse of murderous upper-crust socialites, who demand the Sandins return the group’s lost quarry… or face brutal consequences.
The Purge is basically Shirley Jackson’s seminal horror story “The Lottery” refashioned as a quasi-philosophical, B-movie horror/thriller. Whenever the film is delving into philosophical quandary and social commentary, it is often an excellent piece of work; unfortunately, that excellence is dragged down by silly horror movie cliches and some lackluster characters. Overall, though, the movie is a tightly-paced and effective thrill-ride experience.
James DeMonaco both wrote and directed the The Purge. While his director credits are short (this film and an indie flick called Little New York), his writing resume includes such memorable (but still B-movie-level) thrillers like The Negotiator and the 2005 Assault on Precinct 13 remake, which also starred Ethan Hawke. Like those aforementioned films, The Purge is a very tightly-paced and well-staged thriller, and DeMonaco (along with veteran cinematographer Jacques Jouffret) manages to turn the single-setting into a proper horror movie set piece. In general, the entire movie is surprisingly well-crafted and creates a definite atmosphere of second-to-second tension, with a few good horror scares and thrilling action sequences, to boot.
On the script side of things, DeMonaco is clearly borrowing from Jackson’s story of complacency and tradition run amok, but he puts what he borrows to pretty good use in terms of crafting an interesting premise which engenders a simple but deliciously twisted spin on the survival-horror sub-genre. The most unnerving thing about The Purge is that the concept creates a sort of ‘Body Snatchers-type fear; no one can be sure how anyone around them is going to react, given the opportunity for violence, which keeps things uncertain and edgy.
DeMonaco’s tale, while often obvious and heavy-handed (but subtly brilliant at other times), is nonetheless a piercing head-trip in terms of core themes. In fact, watching it in theaters – watching audiences howling and cheering for gruesome violence – is enough to fill your head with dread about who your neighbor in the next seat truly is – or at least would be, given an opportunity to “purge themselves.” There is definitely something unnervingly relevant and timely about The Purge and its commentary on our collective (and respective) psychology – just as Jackson’s ”Lottery” still has frightening resonation more than sixty years later. For those concerned: The Purge is not so much political as philosophical, and - given its approach to the subject matter – is generally one of the better horror/thriller concepts to come along in awhile.
Now for the rub…
Married to this intriguing premise and timely commentary is a schlocky horror flick, filled with big logical gaps and a few hollow characters who only exist to serve the film’s manic plotline. While Ethan Hawke (Sinister) and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) are both top-notch in their respective roles as Mr. & Mrs. Sandin, their children – played by Parenthood star Max Burkholder and Power Rangers R.P.M. star Adelaide Kane – are (in no uncertain terms) poorly-drawn horror movie cliches.
Young Charlie and teenage Zoey are literally walking MacGuffins who flit in and out of the shadows at different points (according to some vague narrative logic) solely to force the adult characters (and the audience) to constantly seek some new objective in the house or examine their morals – all while the threat of danger to the Sandin brood keeps things on the razor’s edge of tension. Burkholder does as well as he can with his part, but Kane’s acting, like her character, sinks deep into annoying caricature territory.
On the other hand, we are given some better characters in the form of our “villains,” a roving band of elitist psychos in smiley face masks (why complicate things with names?). Their leader (credited as “Polite Stranger” and played by Rhys Wakefield) is a pretty freaky guy, who does about as well as one can with his on-the-nose monologes about society’s “proper order” and such. Edwin Hodge (Cougar Town) is equally good as the “Bloody Stranger” the Sandins take in, keeping his nature vague but interesting enough to pull off one of the film’s better arcs. The third act pushes things (and a few of the actors in the ensemble) into a campy realm of melodrama, before settling into what is either one of the most brilliantly witty or awkwardly terrible conclusions to a horror/thriller film that I’ve seen.
Despiste ending on a strange note, and containing some cliched horror movie characters and tropes, The Purge is an easily commendable film to those who like the short, sweet, and cathartic violent enjoyment of a solid thriller – and/or those who enjoy entertaining movies that also leave you with something to think about. Those looking for a good horror movie might not get the “scares” they want – but tension they will enjoy in earnest, along with a few good laughs at those “I’m going in the basement alone” moments in the script. All in all, a solid bit of work from Mr. DeMonaco.
…Whom we should all thank when real-life “Purge Clubs” start showing up in neighborhoods nationwide.
Kofi Outlaw blogs at Screen Rant.
Ever since The Hangover became one of the biggest hits of 2009, Bradley Cooper has remained just on the outskirts of becoming a bankable leading man. Supporting turns in ensemble comedies like He’s Just Not That into You and Valentine’s Day in turn led to leads in films like Limitless and The Words.
Cooper’s Academy Award nomination for Silver Linings Playbook, however, could be just the career boost the actor needs to establish himself as a genuine performer and not simply People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive of 2011. To that end, Cooper has just joined a project which aims to demonstrate his willingness to take on more challenging material.
According to Deadline, Warner Bros. has acquired the rights to Dark Invasion, an upcoming book by Howard Blum, for Cooper to star in and produce. The non-fiction book chronicles a series of 1915 attacks by Germany designed to prevent the U.S. from assisting the Allies during World War I. Cooper would play Tom Tunney, the NYPD captain who must take down the German spies responsible. The book claims that Tunney was considered to be the CIA’s first head of homeland security.The true-to-life tale – which sounds like it would hue close in tone to something like Zero Dark Thirty – would prove a change of pace from Cooper’s usual fare. However, this is precisely why this project is such a smart move. Cooper has previously tried to take on edgier roles, but his involvement in both The Crow remake and Alex Proyas’ now-defunct Paradise Lost adaptation failed to pan out.
Thus far, Cooper is largely known for his comedic chops, but taking on a project like Dark Invasion – as well as his upcoming role in period drama Serena (alongside Silver Linings Playbook co-star Jennifer Lawrence) – could go a long way to help audiences accept him as a more well-rounded screen presence.
Do you think Cooper is right for this kind of role? Or should he stick to comedies, for the most part? Let us know in the comments.
Robert Yaniz Jr. blogs at Screen Rant.